Current Affairs


  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests held a meeting with representatives from several States to discuss impediments to research in genetically modified crops, the manner in which field trials ought to be conducted and choosing appropriate locations in States that can be designated as test-sites.
  • The move is significant considering that genetically-modified mustard, the first transgenic crop entirely developed by Indian researchers and with public money, has been declared safe for cultivation by a technical committee of India’s apex body that clears GM crop trials.
  • This has also prompted States such as Bihar — an important cultivator of mustard — to challenge GM mustard.
  • The Supreme Court has begun hearing a petition by anti-GM activist groups, who say that the technical clearance to GM mustard opens the crop to “imminent commercialisation” that will “contaminate” India’s mustard gene pool.
  • They also allege that results of tests on GM mustard weren’t fully open to public scrutiny and the clearance violates recommendations of a Supreme Courtconstituted expert committee on how GM crops ought to be tested.
  • GM mustard has several hoops to pass before a likely clearance. It needs to be cleared by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, the apex regulator, and then also a possible approval by the Environment Minister.
  • Bt Brinjal was cleared by the GEAC in 2010 only to be vetoed by former Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh.
  • The consultation with States was part of a three-year long project funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to “educate” a variety of stakeholders on biosafety and India’s commitments, under international treaties, to treat GMOs responsibly.